What the Daily Show Can Teach Financial Journalists—Part 2

Written on:February 19, 2015
Comments are closed

The Daily Show once again provides a great lesson for financial journalists

The Daily Show’s great success with merging comedy and serious political and business coverage, while  reaching a previously unserved audience of younger people who never followed politics, is a great example for financial journalists who want to think out of the box about their profession.

A great lesson here for financial journalists

A great lesson here for financial journalists

While there are some key characteristics which makes the Daily Show innovative and popular—comedy, irreverence, a fresh perspective, questioning authority, and a measured skepticism—he best example is contained in Stewart’s great treatment of the Davos 2015 conference of the world’s richest corporate exec.

Unlike the financial reporters from CNBC, MSNBC, and CNN who all attended Davos, The Daily Show put it into perspective for the  masses, those who have a few thousand in mutual funds, large mortgages, job insecurity and pay their taxes.

While the average view cannot articulate it, they know that the corporatist message passed along by too many on-air financial reporters does not jibe with their own daily reality. The corporate double-talk and emphasis on issues which don’t matter to average Americans, including their own shareholders, is the daily menu on business TV.  This situation was the bulls eye for the Daily Show.

What Stewart admonished  professional broadcast financial journalists for was their typical, fawning interviews of top CEOs, such as Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Steve Miller, and Larry Fink, who relished in Davos by “celebrating themselves as the richest and most powerful people in the world,” according to Stewart.  He was totally correct.

Stewart’s most incisive comment was that the objective  journalistic professionalism of those in Davos was sub-par. Steward admonished them by saying that, in effect, the  “financial networks introduced these individuals you are covering as journalists as the superstars you would do anything to fuck.”

Toothless Reporting

This would explain the softball questions, chummy repartee, and insipid comments to these global financial titans that went unchallenged.  For instance, Steve Miller of AIG said in his interview (as shown in this Daily Show clip) that “we could not do 2008 again if we wanted to.”  This comment from the corporation which gets much of the blame for precipitating the 2008 recession went unchallenged by the sleepy reporter conducting the interview.

Would AIG repeat 2008 if it could?

Steve Miller: Would AIG repeat 2008 if it could?

Did Miller mean that AIG would repeat their risky, unsupervised insurance practices again if they had the chance?   We’ll never know because the financial TV reporter interviewing Miller was too busy thinking about the next question or their lunch date to critically listen to his answer and ask a tough follow-up question.  This is Journalism 101, but it was not being practiced in Davos.

There are many other great examples of  toothless broadcast business journalism. What Stewart and millions of other recognize is that these on-air interviewers act as reporters, but as essentially towing the pro-corporate viewpoint: anti-regulation, anti-government, free-market infallibility, anti-union and the other list of conservatives priorities.

 

Aside from the recent Davos, pro-corporate example, another interview which comes to mind is Maria Bartiromo’s very sympathetic interview with investor Frank Langone of Home Depot, who has criticized the Pope as being too liberal and anti-capitalist.  Langone also played a key role on the NYSE board when he vociferously supported former NYSE CEO Richard’s Grasso’s $180 million secret bonus, the largest in NYSE history.

In the Bartiromo interview with Langone (billed as an “exclusive”), Langone goes off about excessive regulation and not surprisingly, Bartoromo joins in by adding some pro-corporatist slogans herself.  She has even challenged Elliot Spitzer about his prosecution of AIG in this interview.   Amazingly, others consider her opinion valuable even though she has no industry experience, and a very short industry history.

CNBC suffering its lowest ratings in 20 years. Time for a new perspective?

CNBC suffering its lowest ratings in 20 years. Time for a new perspective?

This interview should also serve as a great example of how some on-air broadcast business reporters are nothing more than shills for some very powerful conservative political lobbying forces.

Since this is the second article on the importance of the Daily Show to financial journalists, I would recommend that any serious financial editor, reporter, journalism teacher or student watch this short clip from Stewart and see how his sense of objectivity, critical thought, and I dare say, justice, is in direct opposition to the lame reporting put out by these high-paid financial reporters who went to Davos, where hotdogs were selling for $50.

If anyone wants to know why income inequality, the lack of real wage growth, retirement insecurity persists, they can blame a lot of on the toothless financial editors and reporters at the nation’s largest outlets who all think they are welcome guests  at the inner circle of the richest people in the world.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As financial journalists who suck up to the top executives, their best reward would be to get a cushy six-figure PR job at their favorite executive’s corporation and even then, they would only be line management, and never part of the real inner circle.

 

What the Daily Show Can Teach Financial Journalists

Written on:February 11, 2015
Comments
are closed
What the Daily Show Can Teach Financial Journalists

  Yesterday’s announcement that comedian Jon Stewart, 52, is leaving the Daily Show after 17 years as host and writer marks a major turning point in comedy, but also in how news is presented. TV critics have rightfully pointed out that the show’s irreverent style, humor and tweaking the face of established political forces in Washington hit the mark with an entirely new demographic that was never touched by mainstream news…

Read more...

Hedge Funds Don’t Create Jobs–Revoke Carried Interest

Written on:February 3, 2015
Comments
are closed
Hedge Funds Don’t Create Jobs–Revoke Carried Interest

Hedge funds, private equity and venture capital firms have failed both in performance and in their claims of creating jobs. As a result, the huge lobbying effort to gain preferential tax treatment through something called “carried interest,” should be revoked. Carried interest let these hybrid financials firms pay ordinary income tax rates on their compensation at the lower rate of 20%.  Closing this and other tax loopholes is being proposed…

Read more...

What Ferguson and Retirement Planning Have in Common

Written on:December 16, 2014
Comments
are closed
What Ferguson and Retirement Planning Have in Common

At first glance, there is no connection between the shooting of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, and planning for retirement. But dig a little deeper and you can hear some of the same criticisms about poor people who have too many run-ins with the police and people who fail to save enough money for retirement. The common link is that the victims are being blamed for their life…

Read more...

How Retirement Became So Risky

Written on:December 11, 2014
Comments
are closed
How Retirement Became So Risky

Risk management is regarded as an essential element of modern investment management.  But few people recognize that retirement—the period when a person stops working and begins to decumulate their assets–has now become the riskiest stage of a person’s entire financial life.  Worse, most retirees are grossly unprepared to shoulder this burden, and most do not even know the risks involved. But it wasn’t always this way. The evolution of retirement…

Read more...

Should Marijuana Companies Be Structured As Benefit Corporations?

Written on:December 5, 2014
Comments
are closed
Should Marijuana Companies Be Structured As Benefit Corporations?

The marijuana industry is projected to produce $35 billion in revenues by 2020, according to Greenwave Advisors.  So with this powerful revenue engine behind it, shouldn’t this transformational emerging marijuana industry structure itself differently than other traditional for-profit businesses? This is an important question since the evolution of the marijuana industry has some unique traits which make it a potent force for social and political change. Regaining this higher social…

Read more...

Investing in America’s Biggest Growth Industry: Medicare Fraud

Written on:November 21, 2014
Comments
are closed
Investing in America’s Biggest Growth Industry: Medicare Fraud

While the nation has become embroiled in the Affordable Care Act debate, a critical element of U.S. health care practices has been less noticed: Medicare fraud and its huge financial impact on the economy. Medicare fraud costs taxpayers an estimated $800 billion a year, according to the Bloomberg News. This includes false claims, overcharges, networks doctors and hospitals over-inflating bills and billing for services that were never delivered. But the…

Read more...

Principal CEO Says Investors Cannot Understand Benefits of ETFs and Alternative Investments

Written on:November 18, 2014
Comments
are closed
Principal CEO Says Investors Cannot Understand Benefits of ETFs and Alternative Investments

CEOs set the tone for their companies in every respect–behavior, motivation, intellectual curiosity, innovation and ethics—so it was not surprising to hear that the Larry Zimpleman, CEO of Principal Financial Group ($114 billion in assets under management), my former employer, criticized some of the most innovative products in modern financial history as being too complicated for the average investor to understand or benefit from. What Zimpleman said in a conference…

Read more...

Revisiting the Idea of American Social Mobility

Written on:November 10, 2014
Comments
are closed
Revisiting the Idea of American Social Mobility

As the 2014 mid-term election analysis continues, it is readily apparent that many voters and election experts say “the economy” is to blame for the major Republican win. But what do voters mean when they register objections against “the economy,” especially as it affects their individual economic situations? It’s safe to assume American voters naturally and understandably translate “the economy” into their immediate financial self-interests. This is not always true…

Read more...

Dems Pay the Price For Ignoring the Role of Propaganda  

Written on:November 4, 2014
Comments
are closed
Dems Pay the Price For Ignoring the Role of Propaganda   

Last night’s rout of the Democratic political achievements in the up-righting the economy, advancing health care coverage to more Americans than ever before, cutting the budget deficit and reducing employment, among others, have not gained traction in the electorate due to a ignoring an important persuasive tool: propaganda. Propaganda is difficult to define.  “Most students of [propaganda] agree that propaganda has to do with any ideas and beliefs that are…

Read more...
Breaking News :